MTV Launches “Look Different”


lookdifferent1This week our friends over at Buzzfeed broke the story that our parent company MTV will be launching a major new campaign focused on the social issues affecting younger viewers: race, gender, and sexual identity.

The “Look Different” campaign will have both on-air and digital components and its goal is to accelerate the fight against racial, gender & LGBT inequality.”

mtvpres1As MTV President Stephen Friedman explained to Buzzfeed, “What [we’ve] found is that these [social] issues are a little bit of a third rail and there’s not a place for people to have the dialogue. Our audience feels really strongly about fairness and equality, yet they don’t even really have the language to talk about it or the forum.”

“Look Different” will roll out in three phases over several years. The first phase will focus predominantly on racial bias, the second gender bias, and the final phase will focus on anti-LGBT bias.

According to Friedman the network worked with David Binder Research to conduct a three month survey of a representative sample of the networks’ younger viewers (ages 14-24).  The findings were eye-opening.

Says Friedman, “You look at our white audience: They said only 30% of them growing up ever talked about race. So, that’s 70% that are not talking about it,. “Half of our audience in general doesn’t feel comfortable even having a conversation around gender, around LGBT issues, or race. So the question was: Why?”

The “Look Different” campaign ( hopes to break down implicit biases and combat “microaggressions”, which are “brief and often non-intentionally offensive verbal slights that have damaging effects on members of minority groups.”

For example, statements like “You’re different for a black guy” or “You throw really good for a girl” or “That’s so gay” could all be considered microagressions.

Friedman believes that millennials– particularly white millennials– have difficulty discussing issues of race and prejudice. “[They] feel like [they’re] going to step on a land mine if [they] say the wrong thing,” Friedman said. “The heart of that made us realize there’s an opportunity to look at these issues, dive in, and create a real forum — whether it’s through our spots on air or online — to have a conversation that excavates this very complicated, thorny issue.”
Activities on
The Look Different campaign will consist of on-air PSAs as well as online features such as an “Implicit Bias Quiz” and week long “Racial Bias Cleanse,” which would involve downloading a “non-stereotypical image,” such as that of a black female scientist, and setting that image as a desktop or smartphone background.
The website is now live. More information about the Look Different campaign, as well as an example PSA highlighting microagressions, can be found at Buzzfeed.

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